British Saloon Car Championship

Do It Again - 1968 index

For the second year running, Australian Frank Gardner was the British Saloon Car Champion, but it all happened in a different way to 1967. Then he was driving Alan Mann's big Ford Falcon and winning races outright. In 1968, with Mann's team contracted to race the new Escort Twin-Cams on behalf of Mr Ford, and with the car not homologated for the beginning of the season, they had to start off with a Cortina Lotus (actually one of the ex-Team Lotus cars) and found the going a bit hard.

Big difference in the international scene was that, on the Continent, Group 5 was the saloon car formula, too, but it wasn't quite the same Group 5 as used in England and so there was not as much commuting across the Channel and North Sea from either direction as might have been anticipated. Biggest difference is in the interpretation of the rules so far as engine modifications are concerned, where the speed-mad Britishers let almost anything go, including the number of valves per cylinder. The somewhat narrower European view demands the same number of valves and so four-valve FVA Cortina engines are out over there and not many of the Continentals bothered to come over here.

As usual, the British Saloon Car Championship (an RAC responsibility these days rather than a BRSCC affair) was based on success in a competitor's own class and the divisions were at 1000, 1300 and 2000 cc, so that the champion could come from the under-1000 cc class (as it did for John Fitzpatrick in 1966) as easily as it could from the over 2000 cc group as in 1967.
Instead, Gardner got it in the 1300-2000 cc class with little opposition in his own category after Vic Elford in Bill Bradley's Porsche 911 left the scene to concentrate on other things. While Gardner invariably won the class without much difficulty, he was usually near enough the front to put a bit of spice into a race while the big Falcons with Brian ('Yogi') Muir, Roy Pierpoint (another former saloon champion) and David Hobbs as main contenders for the flag, Muir driving Bill Shaw's car, Hobbs being in that entered by Malcolm Gartlan and Pierpoint being his own boss. There was no real opposition to the Falcons from cars of their own size, Malcolm Wayne's Camaro picking up some championship points at the beginning of the year when nobody else was around to fill third place in the class as did Jack Oliver in his Mustang, but they sometimes had big trouble with some of the Imps, Anglias and Minis in the process.
On the other hand, part of the Alan Mann strategy was to run a second Escort with 'supercharger' (actually a car heater electric blower in the induction system) which lifted it into the over-2000 cc class - supercharged cars have their true engine swept volume multiplied 1.4 times - to arrive at their normal capacity - and this first appeared in mid-season with Peter Arundell at the wheel and was shopped around to various drivers, including world champion-elect Hill, rally star Roger Clark and (with most success) by Jack Oliver. However, this car never achieved its object of seriously interfering with the real big bangers by achieving a class win and the only time it had any serious impact in the points position for the championship (when Oliver forced Muir down to third place in the class at Brands Hatch on September 2), Gardner was already virtually home and dry and, indeed, clinched the championship at that very meeting.

The races:

The cars

Final classification

British Saloon Car Championship